Thursday, February 3, 2011

In Terezin, Where 'The Emperor Atlantis, or Death Quits' was Imagined.

In Terezin, a city northwest of Prague, a sort of "paradise ghetto" was promised to Czech and other European Jews. Most of them were prominent people in society: distinguished musicians, writers, artists, and leaders.

It was a ruse used by Nazi Germany. This place was for safekeeping, amidst the commotions that were Hitler's quest for power and destruction.

It was the place where many lives passed through, many perhaps hopeful in never leaving because of the comparatively much worse faith awaiting for them at places like Auschwitz.

Once, a happy little village was sprung up for the occasion of the Red Cross visit. Shops that would never once be visited by people of Terezin were built. Stores were stocked with goods that would never get bought. And facilities were constructed that would never again be given access to. The Red Cross representatives stayed on the dotted path designated to them on the maps made by the camp's officials. They didn't stray from the movie set that was specifically made in honor of their visit.

Here, prisoners were forced to create art, as one of the ways to deceive the international community of the reality. They wrote music, performed plays, and put on charades for outsiders. Granted, these activities were not unwelcome by the prisoners of the camp.

In what more extraordinary and most devastating circumstances could art be created? Art is an expression, of love, hate, emotions, fleeting moments, lasting impressions, or whatever one may make of. And in Terezin, perhaps it was an expression of silenced voices and an attempt at a hold on humanity.

- Ying Songsana, Emerson College

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